Smart trainers and apps may have revolutionised indoor training but the cost of many turbos can stand in the way of getting started. The Wahoo Kickr Snap is a highly specced wheel-on trainer with much of the feel and many of the capabilities of expensive direct-drive turbos at a fraction of the cost. Power readings and the reactiveness to changes in interval efforts aren't quite on par with more expensive trainers but these are small concessions to make given the Snap retails at a third of these top end machines.
Maximum power, incline and power accuracy specification
Easy set up
Great ride feel for wheel-on trainer
No cadence sensor included
Spikey power readings
Our testing found greater than claimed variation in power accuracy at lower intensities
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If you’ve never ridden indoors before, have a non-smart turbo trainer or don’t want to spend more money on a turbo than your bike, a smart wheel-on turbo trainer is a great piece of kit.
We tested the Wahoo Kickr Snap, one of the most high-specced wheel-on smart trainers on the market today, and took a look at how it compares to the best cheap smart trainers.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: construction
The second generation Wahoo Kickr Snap trainer has many of the same capabilities of its big, fancy direct-drive brother, the Wahoo Kickr V6 but retails at about a third of the price.
A striking feature of the Snap is its 1,500W maximum power output, 12% simulated incline and claimed accuracy of +/- 3%. These are impressive figures in comparison to other wheel-on smart trainers such as the Tacx Flow which manages 800W max, 6% incline and +/- 5% accuracy.
There’s ANT, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth Connectivity to link with your various devices for training apps and sessions.
Unlike the direct-drive Kickr and some other wheel-on trainers like the Tacx Flow, the Snap doesn’t directly measure or calculate cadence. Of course, this isn’t a necessity, but it is something that is heavily integrated into sessions on many of the smart training apps so something most riders will want. Wahoo’s cadence sensor is available separately for $40/£30 or you can use any other Bluetooth or ANT connected sensor (if you have an ANT only sensor you won’t be able to see this on your tablet / computer unless you have an ANT dongle).
The Snap is compatible with the full range of Kickr training accessories such as the Climb incline stimulator and Headwind fan although I doubt anyone who has $/£200+ to spend on a fan would be looking at the entry level trainer.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: Compatibility and set up
Set up is really straightforward; it took me about 10 minutes to do and I only resorted to the instructions to check I’d done everything right. In summary you unfold the legs, clamp the rear axle into the trainer, tighten the roller onto the rear tyre and then put your front wheel onto the riser block.
My bike has a 135mm QR axle so everything I needed was in the box, if you run a 12x142 bolt through you’ll need to buy the adapter separately.
You need to calibrate at the start of each ride, a process which takes a minute or so as the SNAP measures the friction of the system. You can do this either through the Wahoo app or your bike computer (in my case a Garmin Edge 1000).
Connecting to my bike computer (via ANT) and devices via Bluetooth was straight forward using the ‘add sensor’ options on each. As I found with the Kickr direct-drive I had to reinstall Wahoo X on my iPad each time I wanted to connect, an issue I put down to the app rather than the hardware as I didn’t have the same problem with the System or RGT apps.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: the ride
The Snap has a really nice ride feel; it is planted, smooth and without any wheel slipping on the rear drum. Adjusting the resistance of the trainer just made pedalling feel harder – exactly what you want – not that your wheel is being excessively jammed, as can be the case on some wheel-on turbos. The whole set up feels nice and stable with only a little side to side wobble of your bike during out-the-saddle efforts. All in all, it’s a world away from the (my) old-fashion 'dumb' turbo trainer.
There’s a reasonable amount of noise that comes from the trainer (and drivetrain) but it isn’t excessive, for example I was still able to follow sessions / watch programmes on my tablet without the need for headphones.
I tested the Snap alongside the latest version of the direct-drive Kickr V6 (full review coming soon). From a ride point of view there were two aspects that stuck out as different between the two. Firstly, the resistance / power isn’t as controlled on the Snap compared to the Kickr. This isn’t something that you notice hugely on the Snap, it's more that when testing back-to-back, the Snap just doesn't have the highly smoothed feeling and data that the Kickr V6 provides.
This also results in power readings that are a bit ‘spikier’ on the Snap than the Kickr. If you haven’t ridden a direct drive trainer, then you’re unlikely to find the Snap ride ‘unsmooth’; I’d actually argue it better represents outdoor riding than the highly controlled direct-drive version does.
The other noticeable difference between the two Kickrs was the lag of a second or so for the Snap to react to changes in power targets during ERG sessions (when the resistance automatically changes to match your target power). Once I got a feeling for the delay then it wasn’t an issue for longer intervals as the odd second over several minutes doesn’t make a difference. It was more noticeable on shorter sprint-type efforts where there was a quick and significant ramp up in power needed. For these I tended to bridge this gap with a quick gear change to up the resistance rather than just wait for the ERG to come in.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: Power analysis
Compared to my 4iiii cranks the power readings of the Snap were a good 15W more generous at the lower end of readings of 80-120W, more in the realms of 10% than the claimed 3% accuracy. At higher power levels then there didn’t seem to be as much absolute or relative variation – perhaps 1 or 2% – although the variations in the power meter readings from both the trainer and external power meters (4iiii cranks and Favero Assioma Duo pedals) make this harder to analyse and identify any inconsistencies.
Whilst the power readings did show some variation when compared to these other dedicated power meters, overall I was quite happy with the performance from the Snap given its claims.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: value and conclusion
At $400/£300 the Wahoo Kickr Snap is a great way to experience smart indoor training at around a third of the price of a high-end direct-drive trainer.
Compared to other wheel-on smart trainers, the recent reduction in price of the Snap results in it being great value for money in comparison to other trainers at a similar (or greater) price but lower specifications like the Tacx Flow $370 / £300 and Elite Tuo ($579.99 / £445).
It might not have the reactiveness and super smooth feel, or the consistent and accurate power measures of a more expensive direct-drive trainer, but overall the specification and performance of the Wahoo Kickr Snap is really excellent. Personally I’d rather go for a little less performance on my indoor trainer for my winter garage riding and save the rest of my money for spending on my outdoor riding in the spring.
Wahoo Kickr Snap: specs
- Maximum Power Output: 1,500 Watts
- Maximum Simulated Grade: 12%
- Product Weight: 38 lb / kg
- Drivetrain: Belt Drive
- Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
- Power Accuracy: +/-3%
- Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth
- Hub Types: 130mm and 135mm Quick Release and 12x142 Thru-Axle with adapter (sold separately).
- Maximum Rider Weight: 250 lb / 113 kg
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Rachel has been writing about and reviewing bike tech for the last 10 years. Cynical by nature, Rachel never really trusts the marketing hype and prefers to give products a mighty good testing before deciding whether they're worth buying or not.
Rachel's first riding love is mountain biking where she's been European and UK 24hr Champion on more than one occasion. She's not just confined to the trails though and regularly rides - and occasionally races - on gravel and road too.
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